I flew back to San Diego for less than 24 hours to slam together a slide show for the Dear and Yonder Ventura Patagonia Premiere and I’m headed north on the I-5 en route to Ventura: nervous and sleep-deprived, hands slippery with sweat on the steering wheel: “Just picture them all in downward dog…” a friend recommended…I walked in to the sea of faces, giggled under my breath…and launched into 20 minutes of describing life aboard Swell in Patagonia’s Great Pacific Iron Works Store.
My brother and Bria welcomed me to their guest room for a brief stay at Swell’s home port of Santa Barbara. A day of sand and sea at Refoof to quench my sea-starved soul, another talking boards with my shaper, Jason Feist (http://www.j7surfdesigns.com). And if it weren’t for Tucker, I’d never have been able to see all my S.B. friends on such a quick stop: he had big plans…in a few days notice, he rallied the town and turned the walls of the Santa Barbara Brewhouse (www.brewhousesb.com) into a gallery of Swell Voyage photos. Pascal’s reggae band, Cornerstone, showed up to graced us with their roots beats…magical night! With whispers of the biggest south swell of summer due to arrive, I turned up in the right place at the right time to join friend and craftswoman, Blakeney (www.blakeneysanford.com) and Bennett for a maximum feel good surf day: hand-planers for body surfing, shortboards, longboards, tandem boards, jet skis, flirtatious sea lions, beach snacks, surprise…waves are good and Colgate shows up?!…Hey mister, don’t take the inside passage with a faulty engine!? Team B&B to the rescue when the set sweeps over the dead-engined dinghy…pheew, everybody made it home safely.
An invitation to join the Patagonia surf crew on a trip to Indonesia in August meant no time to get back to Swell beforehand. I would get to surf the Mentawai before Swell crossed the rest of the Pacific! With only a couple weeks in between, I might as well stay and hop a ferry to Catalina where the family floats aboard the good ol, Endless Summer, because it’s Happy Birthday, DAD!! 60 is the new 50, baby! You’re so hot with your new yoga routine!! …“Welcome aboard, Lizzy!! Uh…neither outboard will start and the head is clogged, the packing gland needs tightening, and the Balmar could use an oil change J.”
The traditional sail back to San Diego was followed by a flurry of packing, board painting in the underground parking lot, Michael Rose at the Belly Up, and good ol’ Seth comes through when it counts, generously loaded up with all natural sunscreen from Smart Girls Who Surf/SurfVival products (http://www.smartgirlswhosurf.com/) …Its off to LAX on the Anna Santoro shuttle! I saunter in to the China Air terminal… “Oh, no ma’am, you fly on Air China, not China Air…you must go down about 10 minutes walking to the next terminal!” A sweaty wind sprint with 6 boards and my luggage kicked off the Indo overland mission…a stop in Taipei and then Denpensar: customs board bribe and then to find my face on a poster with Katie hiding behind!! Off for a week in Bali and Noosa Lombongan: Gado gado and sambal and watermelon juice, surfing frontside with KATIE!!, frightening scooter rides, language lessons with Geoff, and so many fantastic Ketuts!, massages are only 8 bucks an hour?? Where have I been all this time?! A solid swell arrives and too much Tahiti reef confidence made for a fall on the first wave of a 10 wave set: pushed high on the reef, stuck in 10 inches of water over jagged coral looking at 6 foot white-wash thundering my way!! Foot laceration before I even made it to the Mentawai, NO! Big thanks to the 4 strangers who carried me AND my luggage on AND off the ferry back to Bali in order to keep my bandaged foot dry…one night in Kuta makes the tough guys tumble (“a mix between Tijuana and Isla Vista” as Katie perfectly described) and its off on flight GA143 to JA-KA-RTA!!!!!!!! To meet Chris, Keith, Dan, Wayne, Gerry, Fletch, Jeff, Jason, Timmy, and Devon for 15 days of surfing and floating aboard the Mikumba with A.K., Yu the Japanese James Dean, Capt Job, Soja, Pak Cai, Anto, and Sul…Apo lai! Bagus secali!!
…the motor starts at 4am and I keep sleeping like a princess in my own little second level suite!? Not a phenomenon I was accustomed to…Not a dish did I do for 15 days. Gatorade delivered to the line-up!? Backside tuberiding tips from the boys…slow progress in tricky waves, but countless fun sessions had…caught one of the biggest waves of my life: sliding down the massive face to see Gerry paddling back out with hands raised in cheer! So many waves so close and so many islands, striking beauty, white sand, green islets, and oh the glorious waves. The shocking disparity of the local islanders versus the surf guests: One night a woman and her husband paddled up to Mikumba in the dark, her arm hideously swollen and infected from a severe burn. A.K. took over medical assistance. An hour later the couple paddle away with her wounds dressed, and a bottle of Cipro, and full bellies.
Starry night guitar sessions, macan (food) so hot it might light your hair on fire!, Wayne so barreled, Gerry on every set wave, oh the stories they told, Gerry schooling me at Scrabble, the debut of the Mantard, Jeff in the top of the coco tree covered with red ants, jumping goby fish?!, Keith mastering the alia first try, climbing the anchor chain, paddling an Indo canoe is harder than it looks, can a regular footer get a backside break around here? Where did all these surfers come from? There’s boatloads of them everywhere!? A final day of farewell rights, but my body is completely destroyed…Captain Job lets Lizzy take the wheel for a nightwatch en route back to Padang…and we flew out of Jakarta 6 hours before an 6.8 earthquake…the people in Padang still need your help: www.surfaidinternational.org/.